Doing projects and research by label is a great way of focusing the mind. Our first exploration of the King label came up with twenty-four very worthy titles that graced Volume One (CDKEND 185). The project was exceptionally well received and there were enough equally classy leftovers to give a solid base for Volume Two to build up on. What has added the pagoda style roof to this project is the discovery of three previously unissued recordings that are of the very highest quality.
Sometime Esquire, Mill Evans cut just the one single for King but put three songs on to tape during that session. The one that didn't make the 45 was Ain't You Glad which we consider to be fine enough to open this eagerly awaited CD. It's 100% Chicago soul in style, and probably in practice, and is very reminiscent of Gene Chandler or Jackie Wilson at their mid 60s best. Just the sort of sound that got us into this whole swinging scene in the first place.
The hand and voice of Charles Spurling is featured throughout this compilation and that's without a contribution from his prot?©g?© Junior McCants who was the phenomenon of the previous volume. His unissued recording is You've Got Love On Top Of Love which is in the exuberant, ballsy, uptempo vein that a lot of his late 60s work was cut in. Also witness Let Me Be (A Steppin' Soul) which is even faster and with a hard funk edge that reflected JB's huge influence on the company. Some of that style actually came from Charles Spurling who co-wrote Unwind Yourself with and for Hank Ballard and it was that song that gave JB's singing belle of the time, Marva Whitney, her finest funk moment when she covered the number.
And to rival that musical landmark, I believe we have unearthed a classic piece of black music that not only irresistibly moves the feet but several vital organs as well. The song concerned is sung by Charles Spurling's young female discovery Connie Austin and is called She Made A Mistake. It's not typically Northern Soul, yet it has a drive and passion that any red-blooded music lover can relate to. I'm sure Connie would have eventually joined the ranks of Marva, Vicki Anderson or Lynne Collins on JB's revues had she not decided to split for California at the wrong time. Charles also brought Peggie & Artie's I'll Be Leaving You Soon contribution to the company and our CD, and we're very pleased to give his unique productions, arrangements and rhythm structures the chance to be appreciated and acclaimed.
The third unissued track comes from Billy Soul, whose socially conscious So Many People is unusual yet very appealing due to an uncommon style and a strong tune.
Another slight deviation from Volume One is the inclusion of a track from the Hollywood label which was grouped with King in the 60s. Freddie Williams' version of Jimmy Holiday's I've Got To Live While I Can is more testosterone-fuelled dancefloor action that has been a staple of Northern Soul gatherings for decades. Its manifesto is summed up by the lines, Everything I do I'm gonna do right, I'm gonna sleep by day and love by night"-.-wise words indeed.
It's not all "Wham, bam, thank you Ma'am" by any means. There are doo wop influenced group ballads by the likes of the Solars, the King Pins and the Fabulous Denos and R&B is well represented by Freddy King and the Vonns. The 70s contribute excellent crossover tracks by Gloria Edwards, Regina Sherard and Our Brother's Keeper and a 1950s prototype soul ballad from Donnie Elbert called What Can I Do, gets to wrap things up, purely because it's one of the best records ever made and it just had to come out on Kent.
By Ady Croasdell